Although I'm Blind, I Can See Far and Wide; Even Though I'm Disabled, I Can Climb High Mountains. Let the Ropes of Hope Haul You High!
by Shirley Cheng
What does it mean to be truly successful? To me, success does not mean wealth and fame; success is all about being a successful human being. It is not about being a successful businessman, a successful teacher, a successful doctor--all that comes later. Being both blind and physically disabled, I know the true meaning of success, and it is achieved only when you become a successful spiritual person.
In order to be truly successful in life, you need to first establish your values.
What qualities do you hold highest? What traits do you want to have and be associated with? Think of what qualities are important to you and hold firm to them. Your values are what you will base your life's decisions on. You will make goals around your core values. For example, my value is goodness, so I make goals that will accomplish my value. I will be satisfied for having achieved that value if nothing else.
2 plus 2 equals 4. But if you think that 2 plus 2 equals everything and anything, then you are bound to encounter problems in your life.
Nothing in life is ever guaranteed; everything you own--your car, your house, and even your friends and family, can be taken away from you. But nothing can take away your values if you do not let them. No one can destroy your values unless you destroy them yourself. Your values are what will guide you in the right paths in life.
The second secret on being successful is gratitude.
Before we run into any obstacle, we first need to prepare ourselves for negative or challenging situations. We need a cushion on which we can fall back when we run into life's hardships, and this cushion should be appreciation. Start everything with appreciation. Before you do anything new, say anything new, go anywhere new, meet anyone new, first appreciate your current state in every aspect. This acts like a cushion in case what you will do will bring you to your original state. So if you could be thankful for now, when you return to now, you will be thankful that you have not lost anything. So it is vital to appreciate your situation at every stage of your life.
So your values and gratitude will make you a successful human being, but the most important secret--and this is what really takes me far in life--is the deep, unwavering faith in God.
it is the faith in God that has allowed me to move forward, one sure step at a time, as I know He is there guiding me, supporting me, and loving me. Keep your faith in God strong and sturdy, and your steps will be strong and sturdy in turn.
Other than establishing your spiritual foundation, my number one rule to be truly successful is: Do your best in everything you do. Many people do a mediocre job and expect to be successful; they depend on luck to get them successful. But in the long term, luck will not bring you far. In life, no matter what position you are in--as a teacher, a doctor, as a parent, a child, a grandchild--do your best in being your best. And make the most of what you have. In my case, I lost my eyesight, but I still have my fingers so I can type; I still can hear, I am still alive. I use all those wonderful factors to become an award-winning author, motivational speaker, published poet, advocate, and I continue to love the life I live.
What kind of challenges have I faced yet successfully conquered using spirituality?
The biggest challenge I have faced in my life is definitely my multiple physical disabilities since infancy. I first had to withstand severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that I contracted at only eleven months old. I spent my early years in constant pain. Some days, I could not even sit up or move a muscle, and was knocking on death doors. And since eight years ago, I also have had to overcome my blindness. Being disabled, I have to be cared for like a baby twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
My second challenge, which comes very close in matching the difficulty of my disabilities, is actually apathetic people. There have been quite a few times when human nature has been so much more difficult to deal with than my disabilities. The lack of compassion and common sense in some people is astounding. I've encountered numerous unnecessary man-made hardships in my life. For instance, my mother Juliet Cheng lost custody of me twice in America only after refusing unwanted and harmful treatments. In America, parents risk losing custody of their children forever if they disagree with doctors' recommended treatments or even when they want a second opinion. Fortunately, she won both custody cases, one of which made international headlines in 1990. I've also survived abuse and mistreatment from one-on-one aides when I attended school. I had aides ranging from unloving to incompetent and everything in between. I complained to my schools, they ignored my voice, and I kept on hurting. So those are just two examples of my challenge with human nature.
As for my third biggest challenge--well, I would have to say starting schooling at eleven years old. My disabilities have led me to quite a few challenges, and starting school late is one of them. I was hospitalized for many years between America and China, so I did not receive an education until the age of eleven. I started schooling in a special education class in elementary school. I want you to imagine this: back then, I only knew my ABCs and few simple English; I knew that two plus two equals four, and that five times three is fifteen. Other than that, my book knowledge was non-existent. But because of my thirst for knowledge, I mostly self-taught myself how to read and devoured all that was taught in class. So after about 180 days of attendance, I mastered grade level in all areas and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school, where I received numerous academic, art, and writing awards.
Some of the other high mountains I have scaled are:
* Writing and balancing long chemistry formulas and equations in my head without Braille (I cannot use Braille because of my severe arthritis), yet I finished chemistry with an A
* Completing my GED exam, including mathematical calculations and problem solving, graphs, and an essay, in my head, without Braille, yet scored and exceptional 3280, for which I received a special recognition award
* Writing, publishing (completing every publishing task, including formatting manuscripts), and designing my website as a blind individual
Have I ever come to the brink of giving up, when things seem too overwhelming to handle?
No, not in the least, ever. I am too much madly in love with life to give it up. Life is my best friend, a family member. We all have silly arguments with our family and friends, but do we give up on them afterward? No. So it should be the same with life. Life is a gift God gives me, the most precious gift ever. When you are given a special gift, would you not want to do your best to care for it? Life is simply too precious, too beautiful to be wasted. When you're given life, you should cherish it. I cherish my life, I hold on to every minute and don't let the happy moments pass me by.
What would you have missed if your existence had never existed? I know I am able to laugh; I am able to weep. Without my life, I would be able to do none of these.
Thus, dance with your heart! You will in turn lead others in your dance steps so they, too, can dance with their hearts to the music of life!
About Shirley Cheng:
Shirley Cheng (b. 1983), a blind and physically disabled award-winning author, motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet, author of seven books, contributing author of eleven books, and a parental rights advocate, has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level in all areas and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University.
Shirley Cheng is the author of Waking Spirit: Prose & Poems the Spirit Sings (with foreword by New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Brian), a heartfelt collection that explores a world of dancing hearts, singing spirits, with infinite love from life (ISBN: 9780615136806 paperback; 9780615138930 hardback); Embrace Ultra-Ability! Wisdom, Insight & Motivation from the Blind Who Sees Far and Wide (ISBN: 9780615155227); Daring Quests of Mystics, a soothing read to relax the mind, body, and spirit (ISBN: 9781411656642); an empowering 700-page autobiography, The Revelation of a Star's Endless Shine: A Young Woman's Autobiography of 20-Year Victories over Victimization (ISBN: 9780615150444); and Dance with Your Heart: Tales and Poems That the Heart Tells, a collection of inspirational and fantasy short stories (fairy tales, fables, and myths) and poems for the heart from the heart (ISBN: 9781411618589).
Waking Spirit is a multi-award winner. The awards include The Avatar Award for Spiritual Excellence in Literature (2008), a winner in three categories in Reader Views 2007 Annual Literary Awards: First Place in Poetry Nonfiction, and Second Place in both New Age Nonfiction and Spirituality/Inspiration; award-winning finalist in the national Indie Excellence 2007 Book Awards, Honorable Mention in the 2007 New York Book Festival Competition, as well as Honorable Mention in the 2007 DIY Book Festival.
Shirley is available for interviews, speaking engagements, book signings, and inspirational events.